Rastafari Misunderstood

Mutabaruka; a great Rastafari philosopher and dub poet.

Rastafari, by now maybe one of the most famous and distinct spiritual practices in the world. The knotty dread is easily recognized due to his dreadlocked hair and fashion. Through reggae rastafari has been spread far and wide globally but an interesting problem has arisen; many people can point out a rasta and make the connection with reggae music and weed(herb/ganja) but many limit the rasta man to these things without ever scraping the surface of the ras.

The rastafari faith based its name off of Ras Tafari who was His Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie the first of Ethiopia. The original rasta men such as Leonard Howell and Joseph Hibbert saw Emperor Selassie as a symbol of the African lineage lost  as a result of slavery i.e the name, culture and identity of the enslaved Africans. In response to one of Marcus Garvey’s speech, ” the black man should see God through the his own spectacles” Howell and others who lived in seclusion on Mt. Zion( a place in Jamaica) responded by saying His Majesty was the ideal man, the one who disenfranchised Africans in the West should emulate as a means of identity and pride in his/her African roots.

Now over the years many I-thren have come to different conclusion when the path to Rasta has been walked, some use the Bible as a means of declaring Haile Selassie as God, while others like Mutabaruka maintain Howells belief that Ras Tafari is a symbol which should be at the nucleus of Rastafari and not God in the sense that we in the West understand.

Many people globally just see the rasta as a weed smoking hippy or mad man and doesn’t understand the depth of the belief, the seriousness of the life or  the persecution they faced in Jamaica in their early years. Some went as far as labeling Rastafari as a cult or some sort of black supremacist group. Regardless the fact remains that the knotty is hear to stay and thanks to reggae the diffusion is being accelerated.


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